The Great Friday Link Out V: V is for Venable

Posted: 11th February 2011 by Graham Womack in The Great Friday Link Out

Another Friday, another round of links to some stuff worth reading:

  • Bill Miller posted the latest installment of the series he and I are doing about good players on bad teams. This week, Bill features Mickey Lolich, the fine Detroit Tigers pitcher who seems a little underrated and forgotten today and will probably be more and more of each as time passes.
  • The following is my kind of post. Arne Christensen is asking people to come up with their Favorite Obscure Baseball Figure of All-Time. As I write this, it’s about 6 a.m. Friday, and I know I’ll spend at least some of my work day thinking of lots of these players, but for now, I’ll go with Ron Necciai, who once recorded 27 strikeouts in a minor league game.
  • Spring training cliche I know we’re all sick of: “He’s in the worst shape of his life!”
  • A friend asked me yesterday who I’d rather the Giants have had at shortstop than Miguel Tejada, Edgar Renteria, or Jose Juan Uribe. Here’s one option they missed.
  • New Hardball Times contributor Rory Paap, whose writing also can be found on this site from time to time, posted something on his own site Thursday evening looking for the cracks in WAR. Keep up all your good work, Rory!
  • Great Moments in Sabremetrics: Potential routine bashing of Murray Chass morphs into an involved discussion about opera
  1. Vinnie says:

    FOBFA.
    A good choice might be Gordon “Gordy” Nell. Still alive at 103. For his career, he averaged 1.05 rbi per game.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=nell–001gor

    Ray Perry could also be another good choice….
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=perry-001ray

    But my choice would have to be Gabriel “Pete” Hughes. Check this boy out.

    Pete Hughes was a minor league star from 1937 to 1952. He may have had a chance in the major leagues had World War II not intervened.

    Hughes played just one season, his first (1937), east of the Mississippi River, with DeLand of the Florida State League. He did well, hitting .327 in 86 games but one must surmise he loved the west.

    He played briefly for Muskogee in Oklahoma in 1938 before finding his place in the Pioneer League in 1939.

    His best season was 1939 with Ogden. Hughes led the league with a .409 batting average, he also had 40 doubles and 41 home runs. He also led the circult with 101 walks. The following year, he split the season between Ogden and Twin Falls, once again leading the league with 129 walks.

    He played 1941 with Spokane in the Western International League, leading the league in runs (139), homers (34), and walks (156). Hughes then went to war and missed four seasons.

    Returning in 1946, he returned to the Western International League in Victoria, British Columbia. Hughes had a .341 average with 30 homers and 121 rbi. He also, once again, led the league in walks with 132.

    Moving on to the Arizona-Texas League, with Phoenix in 1947, Hughes led that league in runs (180), homers (38), and an amazing 193 walks. He hit .371 and drove in 167 runs but did not lead the league in either category.

    The following year, now 33, he slumped slightly to .347-21-118 but he had his first of two 200 walk seasons, receiving 207 free passes.

    After two years in the Pioneer League, the Western International League, and the Arizona-Texas League, he moved for a two year stint in the Sunset League. With Las Vegas in 1949, he won a third home run title and he led the league in walks (210), a career best. In 1950, he played with El Centro and had only 131 walks but he hit .393 to lead the league.

    In 1951, the Arizona-Texas League and Sunset League merged to form the Southwest International League. Pete Hughes remained with El Centro and walked 144 times to lead the league. He capped his career in 1952 in Tijuana, as he won the triple crown. He led the Southwest International League with 131 rbi, and 180 walks. He hit .366, tying Wally Tyler for the batting title. As part of his odd triple crown, he tied in two legs – his 28 homers equalled J. Refugio Bernal for the top mark in that category.

    Pete Hughes’ career worksheet shows 1333 minor league games. He had 1566 hits in 4477 at bats good for an even .350 batting average. He scored 1339 runs, hit 284 homers, and drove him 1313 runs, just shy of one per game. He totaled 1666 walks. His on base average can be estimated at .526. His slugging average is an estimated .637. His walk average of .271 is the highest in baseball history (for leagues that have tabulated walks – some early 20th and late 19th century minor leagues did not).

    His “black ink” shows he led his league in runs three times, hits three times, homers four times, rbi once, won two batting titles, and walks nine times.

    While a great hitter, Hughes lacked speed and range in the outfield. A right fielder, he did have a good arm according to a teammate’s report.